Shifting Towards Sustainable Mobile Infrastructure: A New Direction in Value Assessment

Sustainable wireless infrastructure

The relationship between technology, business, and value is intricate and mutually influential. Technology has become a critical enabler and driver of growth in the business world.  

In the case of wireless technology, this may be via enabling operational efficiencies in existing or new business processes and/or providing the ability to deliver new services and experiences. It has transformed how businesses operate, communicate, and deliver products and services. By leveraging technological advancements, businesses can streamline operations, enhance productivity, and tap into new market opportunities. At the same time, technology itself is shaped and driven by the needs and demands of society, driven largely by the business world, as companies drive innovation through research and development investment and market differentiation. 

In the ever-evolving telecommunications landscape, the focus is shifting toward sustainability as a key driver for mobile infrastructure development. With a renewed emphasis on societal, environmental, and economic sustainability, the industry is reevaluating its priorities and methodologies for assessing value. 

The commercial viability of mobile network operators faces increasing challenges, with anticipated revenues from 5G yet to materialize and a limited appetite for new hardware in 6G. Governments and policy groups are realizing the limitations of market-driven approaches in infrastructure rollout, prompting a shift towards considering broader societal, environmental, and economic benefits. Several initiatives in Horizon Europe are pioneering the integration of sustainability dimensions into mobile infrastructure innovation. 

With wireless connectivity becoming ubiquitous and diverse user groups emphasizing different technical improvements, the evaluation of Key Value Indicators (KVIs) becomes paramount. These indicators, rooted in dimensions like Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and societal requirements, provide an objective measure of the societal value generated by 6G advancements. 

Real Wireless has a rich history of expertise in Techno-Economic Assessment (TEA), primarily focusing on economic sustainability and commercial business case assessment. However, our previous projects have repeatedly highlighted the disparity between high socio-economic benefits and moderate willingness to pay leading to many high “value” but non-commercially viable use cases that never get realised [5G NORMA, 5G-MoNArch, 5G-TOURS]. Moreover, there’s a growing awareness of environmental sustainability metrics, as seen in projects like DSIT Proteus [1] and DSIT REASON [2]. 

In TrialsNet [3], Real Wireless brings together expertise in economic, societal, and environmental sustainability to shape the discussion on value assessment in mobile infrastructure. Our recent paper, presented at IEEE WCNC in Dubai in April [4], explores the concept of KVIs, offering a holistic framework for evaluating sustainability across the three dimensions. 


Our work emphasizes the importance of understanding and prioritizing societal values in the development and deployment of 6G technologies and implications for business models, funding and policy. By bridging the gap between technical performance and societal impact, stakeholders can unlock the full potential of connectivity while ensuring sustainability, inclusiveness, and trustworthiness. As the telecommunications industry navigates towards 6G, this comprehensive analysis serves as a guiding beacon toward a value-driven future. 

Moving forward, Real Wireless remains committed to advancing the discourse on value assessment, driving innovation towards a more sustainable and inclusive future. 

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[1] A world first: 5G Open RAN hardware-agnostic DU software solution – Real Wireless ( 

[2] University of Bristol-led consortium including Real Wireless to receive nearly £12 million to unlock 6G technology potential – Real Wireless ( 

[3] First report on validation and dissemination activities ( 

[4] WCNC, Dubai, Bridging the Gap Between 6G Technologies and Societal Values: A Comprehensive Analysis of Key Value Indicators (KVIs) and Business Models, April 2024